Launch of complaints process guidance

Last Wednesday, we launched our new guidance on how HE institutions should manage staff-student sexual misconduct complaints. The guidance is written in partnership with law firm McAllister Olivarius, who supported the launch, and we had a wonderful event drawing together the cross-section of people who are interested in complaints processes and who are also feminists (a surprisingly large group). You can read the guidance, and the first two in our series of briefing notes addressing key issues raised in our work, here.

We also wrote about the key ideas in the guidance for WonkHE, as well as a comment piece for The Guardian. We’ll be doing a webinar within the coming weeks about this for Culture Shift, and will also hope to address questions arising from it in future writing. The guidance has been called ‘radical’ by a commentator on the WonkHE podcast, which we take as a compliment. Indeed, if we are radical, so is the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which published technical guidance for employers on addressing sexual harassment in January 2020, and they are on the same page as us on many points.

I’ve also blogged for The 1752 Group about the Office for Students consultation; the UCL relationships policy ban; and HE institutions’ ‘duty of care’ to students, which you can read about here.

Launch of complaints process guidance

Book launch audio – Class, Control, and Classical music

The formal launch of my book was held on 22 November at City, University of London, very generously hosted by the Gender and Sexualities Research Centre and the Music Department – huge thanks to Ros Gill, Jo Littler, and Laudan Nooshin for making it happen. The event page is here.

I recorded the audio of all the talks (except the final one from Francesca Christmas from Trinity College London) and you can listen to the audio here (c.50 mins).

I was delighted to have as speakers Professor Geoff Baker (Royal Holloway, University of London), Christina Scharff (King’s College London), Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Francesca Christmas (Trinity College London). I’ve also spoke for about ten minutes at the start about the genesis of the book and the key arguments.

There will be video available of the whole talk including a fantastic discussion with some really interesting comments and questions from industry and academic audience members in due course.

Book launch audio – Class, Control, and Classical music

Southampton University research seminar – Class, Control, and Classical Music

I was delighted to be invited to the Music Department at Southampton University on 13 November 2019 to talk about my book. You can watch the talk below, as well as questions and discussion afterwards. The audio of the talk is available here (the audio is not that great on the video, however I’ve upgraded the quality for the audio so that should be ok).

I talked predominantly about how class inequalities in wider society affect young people playing classical music, and also about how the practices of classical music can sometimes entrench these inequalities. There’s a lot more in the book that I didn’t manage to fit into this talk – in particular about classical music and whiteness, as well as about gender, but this gives you a taster of some of the material (predominantly from chapter 4 of the book).

Southampton University research seminar – Class, Control, and Classical Music

Anna Bull and George Burrows book launch

I was delighted to co-host a book launch with my colleague George Burrows from the School of Art, Design, and Performance at the University of Portsmouth. By chance we had both published books within a couple of months of each other with Oxford University Press music. So we decided to hold a joint book launch in Portsmouth. Rather than talking about our own books, we each introduced the other’s book – a rather nerve-wracking but overall very enjoyable way to do it.  Continue reading “Anna Bull and George Burrows book launch”

Anna Bull and George Burrows book launch

Musical standards and middle-class affinities

I recently posted a brief introduction to my new book, Class, control, and classical music. The book draws on research with young people aged 16-21 in youth classical music ensembles in the south of England. In this post, I want to look at another aspect of my argument: how musical standards of ability contribute to retaining classical music in the UK as a middle-class space.

Previous research on middle-class identities in the UK has argued that the middle classes, while far from being a homogeneous group, tend to share ‘a strong commitment to education as key to middle-class cultural reproduction’ (Reay, Crozier, and James 2011, 19), and ‘an ability to erect boundaries, both geographically and symbolically’ (12). It is through these means, and others such as setting up institutions to pass on value through generations, that the middle classes preserve their status over time. One example of how the middle classes erect boundaries is suburbanisation – setting up/colonising areas where they can be with other people like them. Another is private schooling. Studying the middle classes is therefore the study of struggles over boundaries, of inclusions and exclusions to protected spaces, and of the formation of collective identities within these spaces.

So, in what ways (if at all) does musical ‘standard’ work as a middle-class practice of boundary-drawing, and storing value in a protected space? Continue reading “Musical standards and middle-class affinities”

Musical standards and middle-class affinities

Class, Control, and Classical Music

I’m delighted to announce that my book, Class, Control, and Classical Music, is now out with Oxford University Press. Please contact Alyssa Russell at OUP on Alyssa.russell@oup.com if you would like to obtain a review copy.

I recently gave a very short introduction to the book at the Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association. The talk is below, in case you want to get a brief idea of what the book is about. This introduction was aimed at a sociological audience so it focuses on some of the ideas that I thought sociologists would be interested in. I’ll try and blog something about the book for a general audience and a musicology/music education audience as well as soon as I get a minute.

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I’ll start by outlining the problem this book seeks to address. In the UK, as with many other countries across Europe as well as the Global North, cultural production and consumption is heavily stratified by class position – and yet despite this, the vast majority of public funding for culture goes towards those forms of culture consumed by the middle and upper classes. Music is, in the UK, the most divided form of cultural consumption across class and classical music is much more to be played and listened to by the middle classes – for example, Mike Savage (2006) found that those with a bachelor’s degree were six times more likely to listen to classical music than those without. Despite these patterns, sociology has, until recently, neglected classical music as an object of study. However, as I have argued in my book, it is a fascinating lens through which to examine the institutions and subjectivities of modernity. The question the book seeks to answer is why these patterns persist – why does classical music[1] remain the preserve of the white middle classes? Continue reading “Class, Control, and Classical Music”

Class, Control, and Classical Music

Making Power Visible: “Slow Activism” to Address Staff Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education

Ruth Lewis and Susan Marine have edited a special issue of the journal Violence Against Women on activism to address campus sexual violence. This is a timely and important issue and so we are very grateful to the editors for including us in the special issue. Tiffany Page, Emma Chapman and myself contributed an article discussing the modes of activism we are using to work on staff sexual misconduct within higher education. In our article, we argue that in order to activism to address staff sexual misconduct on campus, we first need to make the issue visible. We have attempted to do this through ‘slow activism’ by carrying out research; making complaints; telling survivor stories; and discipline- and sector-level activism for institutional change. Of course, as this work is fairly fast-moving, this article, for which the final version was submitted in September 2018, is a snapshot in time. Nevertheless, given the dearth of research and academic work on this topic in the UK it may be of interest to other activists and researchers in this area in thinking through some of the issues arising as well as thinking through how to make change in this area.

For those who don’t have institutional access, I’ve uploaded a pre-print version of our article. Please note there were a few final edits that are not in this version. The article was covered in Research Fortnight (in case you want the extra-short summary).

I would also strongly recommend taking a look at the other articles in the special issue.

Continue reading “Making Power Visible: “Slow Activism” to Address Staff Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education”

Making Power Visible: “Slow Activism” to Address Staff Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education